Cooking on a Canoe Trip

Just put this together on how I prepare my meals on a multi-day canoe trip. Had a little fun with it. With guest appearances by Hank Williams and chef Justin Wilson!



Very creative - enjoyed it.

I was never much of a camper as a kid, but once I started canoeing I took to river tripping right away. I like cooking at home, and I really like cooking in camp. When I started I was always cooking on the stove, but lately have gravitated more to cooking over the fire. I prefer fresh food to freeze-dried, but that is usually dictated by the length of the trip and the number of portages - I can be happy with either. Love to bring my dutch oven along when I can. Not light, but you can cook just about anything in a dutch oven.

Just back from 6-days up in the Allagash in ME - we cooked on the fire the whole time. It is a lot more work since it takes a lot of firewood, but it is nice to have the fire going anyway (it was cold in the morning). I brought the dutch oven and made frittata for breakfast, lasagna for dinner, and chocolate chip cookies and monkey bread for dessert. Just thinking about it makes me want to get out again.

Breakfast fire with the Dutch Oven


Awesome! One of my favorite parts of canoe tripping/camping is cooking and eating.

My style is quite different… No cooler as its a PITA when you are portaging a mile. Two or three times a day… River trips however can be quite different! How many nights out for? The Allagash is local to me and trips are on the shorter side…a week so fresh food can be done and hopefully with fresh fish but three weeks in Northern Ontario without resupply ( air drops are expensive!)calls for a different cookery style. Sometimes complicated by fire bans.

1 Like

Ecklison, I always camped to cook. You know how to live, and it explains the reason many paddlers love the canoe. While camping, I typically planned main meals on direct fire, with sides on the gas stove. Hot water on a single burner white gas stove. Cast iron dutch oven as the slow cooker for one pot meals or deserts.

While cooking for the adults in my son’s scout troop, and cooking for the troop during winter cabin season, I loved the challenge of reflector ovens, propane ovens, a foil lined cardboard box on a wood burner (girl scouts showed us how to use the foil lined box on the ground, and how to calculate the number of charcoal briquettes to reach a temperature - such clever ladies), and foil wrapped potatoes, fruit pies, hobo meals, and corn on the cob, or unshucked corn on the coals.

Since my kids have grown. I no longer camp, because my wife never enjoyed camping. Dang. How I miss it! The forum encouage me to return to kayaking, now you have me thinking there’s no reason I can’t take advantage of the new fire pit I worked on rather than use that time kayaking. Thanks again for the ideas and inspiration.


My first trip to the Allagash – it was great. We were there 5-nights - two nights on Churchill (The Jaws), and then worked our way down to Michaud Farm where we met Norm for the shuttle back. Coolers and cooking gear definitely take up room in the boats, but we managed fine. Nice that the ranger will shuttle gear so you can run Chase Rapids empty.

I’ve never tried to dehydrate my own food, so for trips with portages I go with freeze-dried meals. It’s OK. Jetboil doesn’t take up much room at all.

Do it, man! I just did a short trip with my 9yo son. Camped 1 night and cooked burgers over an open flame. Going to do a short video on that soon. My other video on what gear to take should be paired with this one.

What a life!!!

I think reflector oven cooking is great but I am old and need to keep the tucker light for the ports… But there is something about a trip on the Allagash or even to Lobster Lake with a wood canvas canoe and a reflector oven and potatos corn and a steak and …smores and biscuits and gravy and eggs in the morning. With good cowboy coffee!

All the posts show the great variety possible in canoe travel… I do have a sea canoe but fires aren’t allowed in Maine Islands above high tide line for the most part. So its steamed lobster… so awful with boiled potatos and corn… Need a little bigger stove than a Jet boil.

For my portage trips I have never bitten into a Jet boil as I do use an Outback oven to bake biscuits. Not the same as in the reflector oven but pretty good never the less. ( My MSR Windpro simmers which is needed for baking) I haven’t liked most freeze dried meals and do like to build around dehydrated pork with a starch ( the potaoes in the inner aisle or noodles or… gasp Hamburger helper and its ilk)… There are quite a bit of things in the forbidden processed aisles that we are told to avoid in the supermarket that are handy for the lightweight food camper without having to incur the wrath of the sodium devil endemic in freeze dried foods.

And yes I do sing the praises of ramen… ( throw out half the seasoning packet, add dehydrated corn and canned shrimp)


Things are too bad for you if you only eat it on camping trips . . . unless you’re always on a camping trip.

Lobster Lake is on my list, and the St. John. I now have a sea kayak, so I would love to do some of the Maine Island Trail. I’m still working so it may have to wait - we’ll see.

it is interesting how different paddling styles effect what you bring and what you eat. I have one group of friends for whom it is all about putting down miles. Wake up early, quick breakfast (instant coffee/oatmeal), pack up camp and get on the water. No morning fire, no group meals - all dehydrated/freeze dried. It’s all about the paddling. Some trips that is what you need to do.

Up in the Allagash we had a much more leisurely pace. Morning fire with a big breakfast. We had a small trolling motor, so we didn’t have to worry about wind on the lakes (definitely cheating). Big fire at night with fresh food for dinner. Between lugging the food and the cooking gear and gathering the firewood it is a lot more work. By the end I was thinking that a Mountain House bag meal might taste good. :wink:

I now have a Ninja Foodi Air Frier that has a setting to dehydrate. Someday maybe I’ll try it. It is amazing what you can do with dehydrated food, but getting the food dehydrated seems like a lot of work.

1 Like

Yup - go for it. I cook stuff in my Dutch Oven at home - nice alternative to the grill and its good to practice.

@eckilson Yes, I am definitely into the leisure side of canoeing. I was a camper long before I got into river tripping. We do 40-mile trips over 3 or 4 days. That’s only 10-15 miles a day. The rest of the time we are swimming, cooking, eating, and sitting around a campfire telling stories and singing songs.

1 Like

Dehydrating doesn’t have to be hard. I love a good mash potato and corn and beef dish with mushrooms
On one tray of the dehydrator, pour some frozen corn
On another dump the package of sliced mushrooms on.
The mash buy instant powdered… Some are decent mixes
The ground beef… Soy sauce and brown in fry pan… Dump in a strainer and rinse briefly with hot water… Dump in a dehydrator tray

Just spread the food around evenly

Now if you got some leftovers from say a spaghetti dinner… just dehydrate them

I don’t care for the texture of rehydrated meat in most dishes. I’ve moved to pouches of chicken or dishes that are designed to use jerky. But i love my dehydrator, use it constantly.

1 Like

On big western rivers we use big canoes, drift boats and rafts and no portaging. Maybe some lining, so we bring coolers, furniture and fresh food. Cooking is an event. We have lay over days with big breakfasts. We take turns cooking dinner. I only invite people that can cook and help out. With no distractions from tv, phones and internet, people do a great job. It makes me hungry just thinking about it.


Sounds like my kind of trip!

1 Like

I normally take sausage.

1 Like

Sounds like a great plan, but I’ll tell it to you plain: I always planned the trip so I could cook. I won’t share, even if I end up just cookimg for myself. I’ve been with people who said, “I can do breakfast”, and you get granola and plain yogurt . . . Oh, no no no! You can have my share and you’re welcome to it.

I understand shortcuts, and have gone that route in backpacking. Instant food off the grocery shelf is fine, but it is nice to mix it up with things like real potatoes. Everything works, but I don’t get out of a sleeping bag for granola and yogurt, or instant coffee.

Depends if the goal is convenience for traveling or camp cooking.

1 Like

Lasagna, stacked enchiladas, Cesar salad with smoke salmon and garlic bread, beef stew, spaghetti Carbonara, green chile chicken with tomatillos, carne asada, pizza, Mongolian beef stir fry,

I usually bring an Aluminum Dutch oven for baking and speeding up the cooking of things like beef stew. Let’s do a river trip. A week would be good.